Buddies to film in city in August

Chippewa Falls better get ready for its close-up.

Seven childhood friends from Chippewa Falls are returning to the city in August to film the feature film, "Illegal Use of Joe Zopp,” a comedy.

The idea to do a film came from Scott Brown, a 1998 graduate of Chippewa Falls Senior High School who in 2004 was studying chemistry at graduate school at the University of Minnesota.

One day, disenchanted with what was going on at school, the Hudson man sent an email to six of his buddies: Emery Skolfield of St. Petersburg, Fla., Seth Hedrington of Chicago, Nick Holle of Milwaukee, Paul Hogseth of Madison, Sarah Rykal of Hudson and Joe Ott of Cincinnati.

Brown wanted to find another line of work, and suggested making a film. "He inspired us to all put our heads together,” said Skolfield, a 1997 Chippewa Falls graduate who is studying to become an English professor.

The idea caught on among the buddies.

"It wasn't a hard decision for me to make because it was with my best friends,” said Hogseth, also a 1997 Chi-Hi graduate. Hogseth graduated from UW-Madison in 2001 and now is a project manager for a medical software company.

"We all pooled money together to start this company up,” Skolfield said. The friends formed Wut Wut Alma Moving Pictures, a movie production company that was incorporated in January.

Brown co-wrote the first draft of the script that's been turned over to Holle, who has a master's degree in creative writing and went to graduate school at the nation's top filmmaking school, USC.

In the comedy's story, Joe Zopp is a scientist and inventor who only gets attention from bullies and would-be kidnappers. He leaves town but returns seven years later after hearing about a mysterious death. The town is full of "unscrupulous characters, artificial charm and ulterior motives,” according to a press release.

Incidentally, the town in the film where the mischief happens is called "Pure Water.”

The company bought a $6,000 digital camera for the film, and a heavy-duty Mac G5 for the film editing.

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Casting for some of the 40 characters in the film will begin next month, said Skolfield. He sent out 70 emails to performers around Wisconsin, the Twin Cities and Chicago. "We've got a lot of responses already, which is exciting,” he said.

But anyone landing a part shouldn't expect to get rich. This is a first-time independent film, after all, meaning there isn't a lot of money being thrown around. Actors will each receive a DVD of the film, as will anyone donating $25 or more to help financially back the film, he said. 

"We would like this to be simply a springboard to bigger and better things,” Hogseth said.

The goal is to get the film circulated at numerous film festivals, including possibly one in Madison.

Hogseth realizes the film will be a lot of work for all involved. But he's looking forward to working with his friends back in Chippewa Falls.

"It's going to be a fun process,” he said.

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